Travel to just about any city in America and, odds are, there’ll be a Chinese restaurant nearby. Convenient, inexpensive, and full of flavor, Chinese food is one of the country’s great adopted cuisines. From Sichuan and Canton to Shandong and Beijing, we’re a fortunate nation to have so many provincial Chinese cuisines represented not just in the larger metropolises but throughout the lower 48 and beyond. Whether you’re sampling Lao Sze Chuan’s addictive twice-cooked pork on the run in Chicago or tucking into some insanely delicious hand-pulled noodles from New York’s Xi’An Famous Foods, the restaurants on our list are certainly worth writing home about.
For our first-ever ranking, The Daily Meal searched America for the best Chinese takeout, from strip mall nooks and holes-in-the-wall to bustling Chinatown institutions and bold new kids on the block. We consulted our own group of chefs and city experts, James Beard Award-winning and nominated chefs like Ken Oringer and Anita Lo, and both nationally and locally trusted sources online and in print in cities across the country. Some great places didn't make the list, but after qualifying the food based on authenticity to regional cuisine, speed and of course, flavor, the food from 15 places emerged as the clear winners — and, as it turns out, two are in San Francisco.
Perennially packed San Tung serves an array of dough-based items like dumplings and fresh-cut noodles (try the shrimp and leek dumplings or dry black bean sauce noodles), but the dish that has most people lined up out the door nearly every night are the dry-fried chicken wings. With a shatter-crisp exterior, they’re about as far from Buffalo as you can get and come slicked with spicy garlic sauce bolstered by even more red chile heat. Forego the rice and snag some garlic string beans to counteract all that heat.
Their takeout is so delicious, they took the #3 spot on our compilation of America’s best, and the only other restaurant from the city to place was Mission Chinese Food and their barbecued pig ear terrine—which came in at #6. This means that, according to our panel of experts, San Tung is the home to the third-best Chinese takeout in America, and serves the very best in San Francisco.